Seahorses are easily one of the distinguishable marine creatures on the planet. However, what makes these creatures the fascinating ones is that they have an extreme way of reproducing. Although seahorses are easily distinguishable, not many people know about their lives, let alone their gender-bending abilities.
But if you are up for it, we will be writing down some of the fascinating information about sea horse pregnancy. These marine creatures are truly majestic in their way, and what way to do that is by telling you some of their bizarre talents that you know nothing about. So, if you want to learn more about these amazing creatures, read further down below.
The Amazing Ability of Seahorses
Seahorses have this gender-bending ability that people know nothing about. But we will tell you this, aside from their unique morphologies, male seahorses are the only creatures on our planet to bear their unborn young. Sounds bizarre right?
Seahorses are the most loyal creatures to their partner, and they mate for life until they die. But what makes this interesting is the fact that male horses carry the unborn young in their pouches. In a nutshell, the ones who have the sperm also get to carry their babies. The female ones get to transfer their eggs onto the male's pouch, and the sperm of the males fertilize it and carry it.
When a female seahorse sends its eggs when they mate, the male also sends its sperm to fertilize the eggs. Once the eggs are fertilized, the male ones are responsible for incubating them until they hatch onto their pouches.
Dancing In The Morning
Seahorses are monogamous creatures which means they have a single mate for their entire lives. Mating or seahorse pregnancy usually begins during the male and female do their dance routine, a method in which seahorses intertwine their tails and lock them up that looks like they are dancing in one piece.
Eventually, they engage in the real thing, which lasts for quite a while, reaching up to 8 hours nonstop. However, the dance only ends when the female seahorse has already deposited her eggs onto the male’s pouch. It is believed that these seahorses' behavior is associated with having a success rate of receiving the eggs without any problems. When the eggs are received, it is then fertilized by the sperm of the male seahorse, - thus, gestation period begins.
Pregnant Dads Preparing For Birth
When you talk about seahorse birth, it is even rarer compared to a sea horse pregnancy. However, whenever a pregnant dad is close to his day, it is searched that they send these unique hatching signals. As a result, these signals are like a green light for its eggs to hatch and swim freely outside its pouch.
Before a male seahorse eventually goes into labor, the embryos take a life of their own in its womb, and their pouch begins to stretch like a pregnant human being. The estrogen then is involved in this phenomenon, thus leading to the pouch expelling these tiny little creatures in the water.
If you wonder who’s the one taking care of the young ones, the straight-up answer to that is males too. Similar to female pregnancy in species where females are doing things that a normal female mother would do, that’s also the case for male seahorses. Strikingly enough, male seahorses’ genes are relatively similar to that of mammalian genes.
What makes this all the more surprising is that pregnant mammals and other types of species’ reproduction cycles are all about incubating their embryos inside a female reproductive tract. As a result, seahorse male pregnancy has evolved independently from hundreds of millions of years ago, similar to mammalian species. Quite remarkable, right?
Like a female mammal species, the female ensures that they can provide necessary nutrients and oxygen for their young; the same can be said for the male seahorse. What separates the male seahorse from the female mammals is that while female mammals do it inside the placenta and the uterus, the male seahorse do it inside a thickened layer inside their pouch. But, whatever the case may be for the mammals and seahorses, the process is relatively the same despite being different in sexuality and anatomy.
Although the only known fish that experiences male pregnancy is male seahorses, their relatives, such as the pipefish and sea dragons, carry their eggs attached to specific parts of their tails. Researchers also knew that some of the species that are in the Syngnathidae family – where the seahorses belong - have a unique pouch-like part that is primarily used for holding eggs too. These unique parts can be seen differently from species to species as some species have a flat spot to a trough, which suggests that it may be the pouch where it evolved.
Another thing is that scientists still don’t know the key advantage to male pregnancy compared to female pregnancy. However, judging by their reproductive methods, one theory suggests that one of the advantages for males carrying the eggs is that it helps reduce the reproduction cycle for both partners.
One unique aspect about male pregnancy is that female seahorses have shown that they are preparing eggs while the male seahorse is still in labor, and once labor is done, they can still transfer the eggs and fertilize them again. In some bizarre instances, some male seahorses deliver the eggs by morning and can be impregnated again during the evening.
Wrapping Things Up
Despite their weird appearance, seahorses are one of the most fascinating yet bizarre creatures on the planet. To sum things up, they are the only known species in the world where the male counterpart carries the eggs and will eventually lay them on the open water. As weird as it may sound, this is true in so many facets.
Furthermore, these adaptations are still unaltered even if seahorses were here millions of years ago. And these unaltered adaptations make the world a surprising world to live in. Hopefully, you can understand more about seahorse pregnancy and answer the questions you have in mind.
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